At 9:45, I received a text message from Sarah "What the fuck happened to us?" Ede/Lambe -- who, admittedly, I was married to for a brief time in the mid '90s, when we raised an egg baby together in sophomore health class. She was at Southport Lanes with Dan "No, seriously, what the fuck happened to us?" Hucker, as well as various other LT Class of '96ers who did not care what the fuck had happened to us. The text message said, in pertinent part, "I'm sitting with Dan right now and we're wondering . . . was there anything weird about that confirmation retreat we went on?" A few more text messages went back and forth about said retreat (Dan, Sarah, and I all were in the same confirmation class at St. Cletus, back in the day), and there were nothing but questions about what went on at this retreat.
Until that moment, I'm not sure I had thought of or remembered that retreat since it happened. A rush of confusion hit me as hard as I may have been hit in the head before being abducted and taken to this retreat. Now, I have what I would consider a pretty damn good memory, and I think I would certainly remember most of the details of a retreat with a group of people that was as good at cracking each other up as any I've rolled with. Hell, I remember stupid little things like the time Dan, Sarah, and I were standing in the second pew during one of many confirmation-related ceremonies at the church and laughing so quietly hard (church laughing -- you know what I'm talking about) that Father Klees was giving us the stink eye the entire time. Sarah even laughed out loud at one point, forcing Mrs. Barr (our confirmation teacher) to stand between us (which did little to curb any laughter). Yet I could not remember more than a few scant details about this retreat. On most occasions, I would not leave an all-you-can-drink event after only being there for an hour and a half (it's just not economically sound to do so), but I needed answers. So I headed over to Southport Lanes around 10:30.
Upon my arrival, I stole someone's chair, and Dan, Sarah, and I began discussing this retreat at once. It was within the last year or so before confirmation. None of us remember much about it, which we all agree is extremely weird because we were all 15 or 16 at that point and hadn't yet gotten into drinking, sedatives, or powerful hallucinogens. We do know that almost our entire class was there, except Woj, who for some reason got to skip it because he went to Catholic grade school and junior high, and the other St. Cletus confirmation class was there as well (we think), so there were probably about 20-25 people at this retreat. We don't know whether Mrs. Barr was there.
We don't remember where it was or how we got there. It may have been in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin, and we really have no idea whether we took a bus there or what, which is weird because we generally remember most confirmation- or CCD-related bus trips we took together, since it was our singular goal during said trips to crack each other up.
We can't remember the sleeping arrangements, but Sarah seems to think everyone slept in a big room, and I also vaguely recall sleeping on the floor (or at least that there was a floor).
I vaguely remember that it was a somewhat odd older couple that ran the retreat. I don't remember being impregnated by the devil, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
We do remember that we had to put on a skit, which was "COPS Meets Seinfeld" (and it was hilarious). This dude Gene was Kramer, and Anne was Elaine, and I may have been Jerry, George, or one of the cops. I should remember who I was, but I don't. We don't remember if we had any Inner Circle there to give the skit an increased air of legitimacy. There may have been a video made of this skit.
We remember that we all got letters at the retreat that family members had written to us. Dan remembers that his started with "Dear Danforth," which was a joke because he had recently gotten glasses for the first time, so his dad called him Danforth. Sarah remembers her letter as having been written by various members of her family. I remember there being a letter, but I have no idea what was written or who it was written by (although it was likely, "Dear Andrew, You're awesome. Keep up the good work. Love, Santa Claus, Michael Jordan, and David Bowie.").
Sarah remembers waking up clutching a teddy bear and crying her eyes out, but she has no idea why she was crying or where the teddy bear came from.
That's about all the three of us could piece together. What. The. Fuck. Why can't we remember anything about this? I feel like we were part of some fucked up movie, along the lines of a combination of The Game, Memento, and Caddyshack. Were we given some fucked up Kool Aid? Was the old man running the retreat actually Jim Jones? How come we can't remember where it was or how we got there? Why was Sarah crying? And how did she get that teddy bear? Was it really necessary that we slaughter that calf? Were we molested? If so, to what extent? How many days were we there? What did we eat there? DID we eat there? Where is that video of that skit? No seriously, I want to see it. It was some funny shit.
Sarah's husband Mike, who went to neighboring parish St. John's, does not recall any similar retreat happening over there. (That doesn't mean it didn't happen, Mike.)
I texted Greg Weeser* Saturday night, since he was in the same confirmation class as us and would surely remember this. He had no recollection at all about it. A follow-up email with further details has not yet been returned, which I assume means Mrs. Barr has already reached Greg and silenced him.
Sunday I asked Christoff, who went to another neighboring parish, St. Francis, and he didn't recall something similar, until I mentioned something about the letters from family members, and then his eyes widened, he said, "wait a minute," and then started freaking out.
Jessie seems to think that all three of us (Dan, Sarah, and I) are somehow transposing memories of different events. Then again, my wife is godless, so what does she know?
I thought about asking my mom about it, but she was undoubtedly in on it and likely put peyote in my oatmeal -- or would that be peyoatmeal? -- for breakfast the morning before I was taken against my will to wherever this thing was. I trust no one.
So anyway, to everyone I ditched at Lincoln Tap, I apologize for what may have seemed like erratic and selfish behavior. Bear in mind I had been drinking all day, doing a bit of long snapping, and hanging out with Steve McMichael at the Cubby Bear.
Needless to say, I was already teetering on the edge of instability. And then this retreat came up, and there are just some things that had apparently been blocked from your memory that you need to figure out immediately. Of course, I didn't figure much out.
If anyone else who went through confirmation at St. Cletus can fill me in (or if other former Catholics went on a similar retreat during their confirmation process), I know at least three people who would be greatly appreciative.